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The Innocents

By Francesca Segal

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ISBN 10: 1401341810
ISBN 13: 9781401341817
288 pages

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“Inspired by The Age of Innocence, Segal’s book is warmer, funnier, and paints a more dynamic and human portrait of a functional community that is a wonderful juxtaposition to Wharton’s cold social strata.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

A smart and slyly funny tale of love, temptation, confusion, and commitment; a triumphant and beautifully executed recasting of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence.

Newly engaged and unthinkingly self-satisfied, twenty-eight-year-old Adam Newman is the prize catch of Temple Fortune, a small, tight-knit Jewish suburb of London. He has been dating Rachel Gilbert since they were both sixteen and now, to the relief and happiness of the entire Gilbert family, they are finally to marry. To Adam, Rachel embodies the highest values of Temple Fortune; she is innocent, conventional, and entirely secure in her community—a place in which everyone still knows the whereabouts of their nursery school classmates. Marrying Rachel will cement Adam’s role in a warm, inclusive family he loves.

But as the vast machinery of the wedding gathers momentum, Adam feels the first faint touches of claustrophobia, and when Rachel’s younger cousin Ellie Schneider moves home from New York, she unsettles Adam more than he’d care to admit. Ellie—beautiful, vulnerable, and fiercely independent—offers a liberation that he hadn’t known existed: a freedom from the loving interference and frustrating parochialism of North West London. Adam finds himself questioning everything, suddenly torn between security and exhilaration, tradition and independence. What might he be missing by staying close to home?


“Francesca Segal’s lustrous debut may have begun as a seed shaken from Edith Wharton’s masterpiece The Age of Innocence, but only a few pages will show how completely Segal has made The Innocents her own. The setting—a vibrant if enclosed London Jewish community—is beautifully counterbalanced by Segal’s wry and compassionate voice.”
—Lauren Groff, bestselling author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia

The Innocents is written with wisdom and deliciously subtle wit, in the tradition of Jane Austen and Nancy Mitford. . . . This is a wonderfully readable novel: elegant, accomplished, and romantic.”
—André Aciman, author of the award-winning Out of Egypt, Call Me by Your Name, and Alibis

“A moving, funny, richly drawn story. . . . Full of real  pleasures and unexpected wisdom, this book sweeps you along.”
—Esther Freud, author of Love Falls and Lucky Break

“Writing with warmth, humor, and control, Segal brings to life an impressively large cast of characters, and makes The Innocents a generous, memorable first novel that I found hard to put down.”
—Stephen McCauley, author of The Object of My Affection and Insignificant Others

“I was captivated by this alluring novel. . . . Segal writes with dazzling psychological precision, conjuring up characters who are complex, engaging, and utterly real.”
—Margaret Leroy, author of The Soldier’s Wife

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The Innocents

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